Goblins, skeletons, and always popular ghosts
Who will be this year’s Halloween toast?
Princesses, pirates, Disney friends and vampires
Oh what costumes parents imagination inspire
Stores are lined with shelves of candy and sweets
More than enough to fill everyone’s treats
But make sure that the most awful trick of all
Doesn’t happen to your loved ones this fall
The best treat you can give them is to keep them up to date
On all the vaccines to keep them healthy and safe.
You’re only a kid once, so let them enjoy the day
And keep vaccine-preventable diseases far away
At yesterday’s meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the Centers for Disease Control, it was recommended that that the HPV4 vaccine be routinely given to males aged 11-12 years with the 3-dose series. The vaccination series can be started beginning at age 9 years. In addition, vaccination is recommended for males aged 13-21 years who have not been vaccinated previously or who have not completed the 3-dose series. Males aged 22 through 26 years may be vaccinated. Priority should be given to males aged <22 years as vaccination of young men and boys would provide the greatest benefit. This has the potential to prevent cancer in our boys later on, and is good news.
Each year in October, the Challenged Athletes Foundation sponsors a triathlon for
both challenged and able-bodied athletes. It is a demanding course, on a beautiful venue, at a park on the La Jolla Cove. The park is full of amputees of all ages from little toddlers to senior citizens. The amputees are there for a variety of reasons — birth defects, cancer, accidents, military veterans returning from overseas, and meningococcal
disease. It warms my heart to see the little kids running around on prosthetic legs, without a care in the world. That is how it should be for all children — to
grow up and enjoy their childhood. The wonderful advancements in
prosthetics have given these children and adults their lives back. I
think of the members of the NMA team that we sponsored, who are amputees
because of meningococcal disease. For all of them, a vaccine could have
made a difference and prevented them from getting sick. Our survivors
have risen above their illness and have shown what determination can do.
They participate not only for the enjoyment of the triathlon, but also to help
raise awareness of meningococcal disease. There are just so many
situations over which we have no control –such as accidents, cancer, birth defects — but we can do something about meningitis. We can vaccinate our children
and protect them. I talked to so many parents this weekend, who did not
know about vaccination. I felt that we made a difference there. I
love this event, because of the spirit of the athletes. I just don’t want to see any more meningitis victims there.
While I was in Washington, DC, last week for business, I stopped at Capitol Hill to talk to some of the health aides for several senators and representatives. I was not asking for money; I was not asking for legislation. I just was asking for their support to help Give Kids A Shot, to make sure that every child for which a meningitis vaccine is available, has the opportunity to get it.
As a parent who lost a child to a potentially vaccine-preventable disease, bacterial meningitis, I can’t even put into words the devastation it has cost my immediate family, extended family, and friends. We will soon be at the threshold of a time when vaccines for meningococcal meningitis to protect infants will be available. Thank goodness that meningitis is a rare disease, but even one life that can be saved, needs to be saved.
It was very interesting that of the 7 health aides I spoke with, three of them had personal experiences with meningitis – losing a relative or friend. It makes me think that this disease is not so rare as many would like to think, and that the impact of this disease is so overwhelming, that you can see it in the eyes of the people talking about it. It doesn’t matter if the person they knew died 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years ago. There is a haunted look on their faces, as they remember how quickly meningitis swooped in and left death in its wake. We need to continue to do all we can to protect our children and provide them every vaccine available.
A University of Colorado – Boulder student was recently diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. Thank goodness her condition is good. She is incredibly lucky. There are too many of us who know how much worse this disease can be. What really concerned me, and gave me chills, is that the student worked at a daycare center. Think of all of the young children who could have been exposed to this deadly disease. The State Health Department has gone in and notified everyone in close contact, but this situation just reinforces to me how important meningitis vaccination and education are to everyone. This disease can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you do, or how old you are. All people who can be protected with the meningitis vaccine should receive it. I am hoping that when infant vaccines are licensed, that parents will make sure their infants, who are such a vulnerable population, are protected. It just takes one unfortunate case of this disease, to cause even more heartbreak.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 20th anniversary gala of Every Child by Two, honoring former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and former Arkansas First Lady Betty Bumpers for their incredible contributions to the health of our children. These two women have worked tirelessly for over 40 years to prevent childhood diseases through immunization. It is thanks to them, that our generation does not have to worry about potentially life-threatening diseases attacking our children, as our parents and grandparents had to worry.
I am thankful that my grandchildren can now be protected against so many diseases, and I look forward to the day when even more vaccines become available. Our children are our greatest resource, and there is no greater expression of our love for our children than to protect them.